As It Began

When Snape is sent to deliver Harry's Hogwarts letter on his 11th birthday, will he still be able to hate Harry after meeting the Dursleys? Harry is a first year at Hogwarts. HP & SS No slash!

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14. Chapter 14

 

    When Harry woke the next morning, he was expecting a Christmas like he was used to at the Dursleys’: him sitting in the corner while everyone else opened presents. He rolled over and buried his face in his pillow.

    “Get up, Harry! Those presents won’t open themselves,” Ron said. “On second thought... some of them might. You may want to get a hold of that one.”

    “What?” Harry asked sleepily, surprised to find a small pile of presents at the foot of his bed. “I have presents?”

    “Of course! It’s Christmas for The Boy Who Lived, naturally you have presents!” 

    Harry got up and grabbed the one that Ron had mentioned was trying to open itself. Indeed, it had shredded half of the wrapping paper before Harry ripped the rest off. Inside, he found a joke snitch that was deceptively easy to catch. Once caught, however, it turned all of Harry’s nails on the hand that held it gold. He smiled and opened the card, reminding himself to tell the twins thank you.    The next two he opened were from Ron and Hermione; the latter had gotten him a new quill and several sheets of fancy parchment. Ron’s gift was closer to Harry’s interests though: a large box of Honeyduke’s finest chocolates.

    “Thanks, mate!” Harry said, sincerely hoping that Ron would like his book: How to Evade Bludgers and Beaters Preferably Without Getting Bludgeoned or Beaten. 

    Harry also received a hand knit sweater from Mrs. Weasley and a new pair of Quidditch gloves from Draco. Harry glanced at the pile of wrappings, feeling as if he were missing something. This sad lacking feeling did not last long, for Harry was content to revel in his first real Christmas. Ron and Harry lazed away the morning breaking in the new wizard chess set that Ron had received and eating chocolates.

    When it was time for the feast, Harry and Ron and three older Gryffindors who had also opted to stay at Hogwarts headed down to the Great Hall. Due to the small number of students who remained for the holiday, two tables were simply pushed together to seat the teachers on one side, students on the other.

    “What are those?” Harry asked, pointing to the piles of tubes in intervals along the table. 

    “Wizard Christmas Crackers!” Ron said, picking one up. “Here, pull the other end.”

    Harry did so and was rewarded by an explosion of noise and blue smoke. 

    “Cool, you got a wizard chess set!” Ron said enthusiastically. “We can break yours in later tonight against my new one.”

    Harry smiled, then stopped when he saw Professor Snape glaring from across the table. Unfortunately, the Gryffindors were the last to arrive, and since students seemed to be intimidated by Professor Snape, the spots on the other end of the table, near Hagrid and Professor Flitwick, were all filled. Harry was forced to take a seat right across from the Potions Professor. He was at least thankful that Professor Quirrell was on the opposite end.

    “Merry Christmas, Professor Snape,” Harry said, in attempt to lighten the mood. He received a glare in return. Luckily food appeared quickly, easing some of the tension. 

    The rest of the meal passed with silence between Harry and Snape. Harry turned his attention instead to Dumbledore’s rather entertaining stories and tried to ignore the dark eyes boring into Harry’s head. He was relieved when at last the meal was over and they were free to go. 

    The common room was quiet when they returned for there were only a handful of Gryffindors. The silence seemed to eat into Harry and he decided to take Draco’s advice. He simply couldn’t stand it any longer.

    “Where are you going?” Ron asked as Harry moved towards the portrait hole.

    “I have to talk to Professor Snape.”

    “You are going to seek him out on Christmas? Why? So that he can glare at you some more?”

    “You noticed too?” Harry asked, thankful that he wasn’t imagining the hostile attitude directed towards him. Ron nodded. “Well, I hope that’s not what happens.”

    Ron scoffed, “Good luck with that.”

    “Thanks,” Harry said as he left. 

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

 

    Severus sat at his desk reading through an old potions book when a knock sounded on his door. Reluctantly getting up, he cursed the person who would disturb his quiet solitude.

    “Yes?” the Severus snapped, opening the door only a few inches. “Oh. Potter.” He went to close the door.

    “Professor, please,” Harry implored. “Its Christmas.”

    “That changes nothing.”
    “I’m sorry, Professor, I really am. I wanted to show you that,” Harry said.

    “And how do you plan on doing that?” Severus asked dryly. 

    “Let me in first, please?” 

    “Fine,” he said, stepping out of the way. The small boy entered and stood in front of Severus. 

    “I’m really, really sorry. I thought that if I knew what the invisible man was after that it would help me be ready for him in the future. I thought that a little knowledge of what he wants could save my life. I certainly don’t have the skill to fight someone like that off. I’d have to work something else out,” Harry said. 

    Severus could see the honesty in his eyes and against his instinct, he was inclined to believe the boy. Those green eyes looked innocently up at him.

    “You wouldn’t want me to get hurt, would you?” 

    Snape cursed. He tried to deny that he had grown to care ever so slightly for the boy but simply could not lie to himself in that way.  

    “I had a present in mind for you, but I didn’t know how to get it without your help,” Harry said quietly. The boy simply did not stop rubbing salt in the wound.

    “Oh?” Severus asked, mildly curious.

    “It would require going back to the Dursleys’,” Harry explained.

    “Potter, you hate the Dursleys.”

    “You don’t need to tell me that,” Harry retorted. “But there is no other way.”

    Severus realized that the gift must be very important to Harry for him to be willing to go back to the place that he had loathed and lived in for the first ten years of his life. Severus let his curiosity get the better of him.

    “Very well, I suppose you’d like to go now?” Severus asked. Harry nodded. “Let me alert Dumbledore.”

    After writing a quick message to the Headmaster and sending it flying off through the castle, Severus led Harry outside. They walked in a comfortable silence to the edge of the Apparation barrier.

    “Do I have permission to look into your mind for a picture of the Dursleys’ house so that we can Apparate directly there?” Severus asked. Harry nodded. Severus found a memory of a remarkably normal house with a white picket fence, perfectly pruned shrubs and a lush green lawn. He fixed the image in his mind and instructed Harry to grab hold. They were squeezed through the air and landed with a pop on the Dursleys’ front lawn.

    “Would you like me to come?” Severus asked, for the small boy looked nervous as he stared through the window at a bright muggle Christmas tree.

    Harry nodded, then started up the steps. About ten feet from the door, something invisible stopped Severus abruptly. Harry turned in surprise.

    “What’s wrong?” Harry asked.

    “There seems to be an invisible barrier that you can pass through, but I cannot,” Severus said, equally surprised. “Ah,” he said, remembering a conversation years ago between Minerva, himself and Albus.

    She had argued to take Harry away to a more suitable foster family, but Dumbledore refused. He stated his reason as an old and complex form of magic that gave Harry protection through his mother’s blood as long as he called this house ‘home’. Protection from Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Namely, him.

    “I cannot come further, Harry. I will stand right here and wait for you,” Severus said. Harry opened his mouth to speak. “Please don’t ask questions.”

    Harry, as if realizing the new and fragile trust between them, did not push it. Instead, he turned and knocked loudly on the door.

    “It’s not Halloween, what do yo- Oh.” Vernon Dursley said, standing in the doorway. “I thought we were rid of you.”

    “I just wanted to collect the last of my things, sir. Merry Christmas,” Harry said in a timid voice.

    “You think I will let you step foot in this house once more?” the large man demanded.

    “I know you will let him,” Severus said in a low voice. Vernon jumped; he had not seen Severus in the darkness for he was dressed in solid black.

    “Alright boy, but be quick about it,” he relented.

    Harry, instinct born of years of avoiding his uncle, darted past the man and hurried to his cupboard. Vernon seemed to have initiated a stare-down with Severus, but little did he know that Severus was more than equal to the challenge. Vernon looked away within moments, causing Severus to display his best sneer. A few uncomfortable minutes ticked by before Harry came out of the house.

    “Er, bye, sir,” Harry said in parting.

    His uncle merely grunted and shut the door in his face. Harry sighed and turned to Severus. “We can go back now.”

    Severus nodded and repeated the side-along Apparation, noting that Harry had nothing in his hands.

 

---{}-{}-{}---

 

    Back in Snape’s office, Harry reached into his robes and pulled out his intended gift for Snape.

    “You’ve shown me pictures I haven’t seen of my mom, so I thought I’d give you the only one I’ve ever had. I’ve memorized it by now,” Harry said, then hesitated. “That is, if you want it, you have so many other better ones.”

    “I assure you, one can never have too many photographs,” Snape said softly.

    Harry handed over the picture; it was only half, with a torn edge. “I found it in the trash after my aunt threw it away,” Harry explained.

    In the half that was intact, Lily seemed joyously happy as she bounced a baby Harry on her knee. She planted a kiss on his cheek then blew one at the camera. It was, for Harry, the perfect image of his mother; even better than all of the ones Snape had shown him. That was because in this one, Harry could see that love that she had for him in her eyes, and this, beyond anything, made him feel complete. 

    Snape stared at it for a long moment. “Thank you, Harry,” he said quietly. “Though I insist you keep it. Just seeing is enough for me; I would not want to take such an important thing away from you.”

    “You wouldn’t be taking it away from me, not really. I thought you can add it to your collection,” Harry said earnestly.

    “If you are sure...” Snape said, the longing in his eyes was unmistakeable. Harry smiled.

    “I’m sure,” he said with certainty. “That is, well, I can look at them anytime I want, right?”

    Snape nodded silently.

    Harry grinned, “So you forgive me then.”

    “It seems that I do not have a choice,” Snape said.

    “You always have  a choice.”

    “Not with you I don’t,” Snape relied. Harry was confused but did not comment. “Now I had something in mind for you as well, though it’s not a traditional present...”

    Harry’s eyes widened at the thought of Snape giving a present. That must be a first. “What is it?”

    “It is a twofold gift. One thing I will show you, the other I will teach you. I have decided to teach you Occlumency,” Snape stated.

    “What’s that?” Harry asked.

    “It is a way to shield your mind so that, though I strongly discourage this, you can hide your thoughts from a Legilimens like me. I think that it is only fair.”

    Harry nodded, “That is fair. What are you going to show me?”

    “Come, unless you wish to wait until another day...” Snape trailed off.

    “No, I want to go now!” Harry said excitedly.

    Snape opened the door for Harry and led him through the castle. It was very disorienting, for though the torches burned, the corridors were very dark. If he had not been following the professor, Harry was sure that he would’ve gotten lost. At length, they reached an ordinary wooden door which Snape pushed open. Inside, stood a towering mirror with an odd inscription along the upper edge.

    “A mirror?” Harry asked, slightly disappointed.

    “The Mirror of Erised, Harry. Stand in front of it,” Snape urged gently.

    Unsure of what he would see, Harry did so. When he looked into the reflective surface, he saw himself, but he was not alone. Beside him, Harry recognized his mother, exactly how she had looked in the torn picture; love shining in her eyes. On the opposite side stood what seemed like an older version of Harry himself, who Harry knew was his father. His head whipped around, searching for them in the air beside him. There was no one in the room but Snape. 

    “I assume you see your parents?” Snape asked. At Harry’s nod, he explained, “They are not really here.”

    “But they’re moving. They look so real. Are they ghosts?” Harry asked, pain in his voice.

    “Have you seen Nearly Headless Nick? They do not look as he does,” Snape said. “No, Harry, they are not ghosts. This mirror shows you what you desire most. Some see riches or power. You see a family who loves you.”

    “What do you see, sir?” Harry asked. Snape stepped up next to Harry on the side where his father was. James Potter melted away, but Lily remained.

    “I see myself as I would be had I not made a horrible mistake,” Snape said cryptically in a very soft voice.

    “It’s never too late,” Harry said, not catching onto Snape’s meaning.

    The Potions master turned his dark eyes upon Harry. “No, I suppose it’s not.”

    They stayed for a few minutes more before Snape led Harry from the room.
    “The mirror will be moved to a new place tomorrow, it would be best if you do not search for it,” Snape informed Harry.

    Harry was immediately saddened, for he had already thought about trying to sneak back and look at the mirror some more.

    “It does no good to dwell on what cannot be changed, Harry,” Snape said wisely. “You will be happier if you focus on what can. Never quite got that down myself,” he said, in a voice of dark humor.

    Harry nodded, deciding that this Christmas gift was better than all of the ones he had received that morning.

    “Merry Christmas, Professor.”

    “Merry Christmas, Harry.”

 

 

AN: Okay, I'm not posting another chapter until I get some comments! I have to know if you guys are liking this or not :)

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